Ben McDonald
Born: (1967-11-24) November 24, 1967 (age 56)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 6, 1989, for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
July 16, 1997, for the Milwaukee Brewers
MLB statistics
Win–loss record78–70
Earned run average3.91
Career highlights and awards
Member of the College
Baseball Hall of Fame
Men's Baseball
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1988 Seoul Team
Baseball World Cup
Silver medal – second place 1988 Rome Team

Larry Benard "Ben" McDonald (born November 24, 1967) is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. The first overall pick in the 1989 MLB Draft, he played for the Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers from 1989 through 1997.

Baseball career


After graduating from Denham Springs High School,[1] McDonald was the 670th selection in the 27th round by the Atlanta Braves in the 1986 MLB draft. He elected not to sign despite the Braves' $75,000 offer which at the time was given to second-round draftees. He felt he was not ready for professional baseball and that he wanted to matriculate at Louisiana State University (LSU) instead.[2][3]

The 6'7" McDonald played two sports at LSU. He was a reserve forward with the Dale Brown-coached Tigers, appearing in 32 matches with five starts as a freshman before his playing time diminished to six games exclusively off the bench during his sophomore year.[4]

He led the 1988 US Olympic Team to a gold medal for baseball, winning complete games against host South Korea and Puerto Rico. During his three-year college career at LSU, McDonald twice helped his team reach the College World Series. He gave up a walk-off grand slam to Stanford's Paul Carey in the 1987 series.[5] His best collegiate season came in 1989, which he finished with a 14–4 record, a 3.49 ERA, and a then-Southeastern Conference record 202 strikeouts. That year, he was selected as a member of the All-America team, and won the Golden Spikes Award. In 1989, he played collegiate summer baseball with the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod Baseball League,[6] recording one start.[7]

Minor leagues

The Baltimore Orioles made McDonald the first overall selection in the 1989 June draft. He is the first of two LSU Tigers to have been drafted number one, joined by Paul Skenes in 2023.[8][9]

He had earlier been chosen by the Atlanta Braves in the 27th round of the 1986 draft, but decided to go to college instead of signing. He signed with the Orioles on August 19, and on September 6, he made his major league debut. McDonald was the second member of his draft class to reach the majors, coming up three days after his Olympic teammate John Olerud.

Baltimore Orioles

In the finale of the 1989 season, McDonald tossed one scoreless inning of relief versus the American League East champion Toronto Blue Jays, logging his first career win. [10] Of note, he would become the sixth player to make the majors in the same season that he was selected as the number one overall pick in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. [11]

McDonald joined the Orioles' starting rotation in 1990, and in his first major league start on July 21, he threw a complete-game shutout against the Chicago White Sox. At the end of the season, he finished eighth in Rookie of the Year voting, with the award going to catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. McDonald would go on to spend seven seasons with the Orioles, before leaving as a free agent in 1996 to join the Milwaukee Brewers. He never led his league in a major category, but ranked among the top 10 at various times in categories such as complete games, wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. McDonald was the first #1 draft pick to win his first three starts in Major League history, a feat which has been equalled by Gerrit Cole.[12]

Milwaukee Brewers

While with the Brewers, McDonald began to encounter shoulder problems, missing part of the 1997 season. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians that offseason, in a deal that brought Marquis Grissom and Jeff Juden to Milwaukee in exchange for him, Mike Fetters, and Ron Villone. McDonald would never pitch for the Indians, though, as an operation to repair his rotator cuff on February 26, 1998 proved unsuccessful. He was ultimately forced to retire, and the Brewers sent Mark Watson to Cleveland to resolve their obligation in the matter.

McDonald ended his career with a 78–70 record, 894 strikeouts, and a 3.91 ERA in 1,29113 innings pitched. He never pitched in the postseason.

In 2008, McDonald was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.[13]

Post-baseball career

McDonald is a color commentator for Orioles telecasts on MASN and on the radio for the Orioles Radio Network. He served as an assistant coach for the Denham Springs High School softball team in Denham Springs, Louisiana. He also is a color analyst for the NCAA Baseball Tournament on ESPN. McDonald and his wife Nicole have a son and a daughter. His son, Jase McDonald, pitched for LSU-Eunice.


  1. ^ Ben McDonald (profile) – Louisiana State University (LSU) Athletics. Retrieved October 12, 2023.
  2. ^ 1986 MLB Draft Pick Transactions, June 2 (Rounds 21–30) – Pro Sports Transactions. Retrieved October 12, 2023.
  3. ^ Sayers, Tessa. "Keeping It Simple with Ben McDonald,", Tuesday, December 7, 2021. Retrieved October 12, 2023.
  4. ^ LSU Men's Basketball 2022–23 Record Book – Louisiana State University Athletics. Retrieved October 12, 2023.
  5. ^ "Paul Carey walk off grand slam". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  6. ^ "Major League Baseball Players From the Cape Cod League" (PDF). Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  7. ^ "McDonald Leaves Cape Cod League". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. July 26, 1989. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  8. ^ Randy Rosetta (June 8, 2015). "LSU star Alex Bregman goes to the Astros with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft". The Times-Picayune.
  9. ^ Kaplan, Ron (June 9, 2015). "The next big JML thing?". New Jersey Jewish News.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ 100 Things Orioles Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Dan Connolly, Triumph Books, Chicago, 2015, ISBN 978-1-62937-041-5, p.207
  11. ^ 100 Things Orioles Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Dan Connolly, Triumph Books, Chicago, 2015, ISBN 978-1-62937-041-5, p.208
  12. ^ "Cole wins his first three starts". Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  13. ^ McDonald Elected to College Baseball HOF